*All names have been changed or omitted for personal use as a portfolio sample
The place was quiet except for the water splashing and gurgling through the rock formations. “Hey, hurry up before somebody shows up,” I whispered to my buddies, Eddie and Pratt as we splashed into the shallow, blue-bottomed pool. We stayed hunched over to reduce our silhouettes and slowly slipped through the water. Our worn out, Hawaiian-local baggy shorts were quickly soaked from the knee deep water and the spray of the fountain. The star-studded sky and crescent moon made it the perfect night for our mischievous project. The cold water was a refreshing, if temporary, retreat from the humid, tropical air.
In the middle of the elongated pool, water cascaded down the crevices of the six foot rock formation. Out of the top of it jetted a spray of water shaped like the tail of a peacock. Surrounding the center fountain were four smaller rock fountains. From each of these gurgled a beautiful, lily-shaped spray of water. Underwater lamps slowly alternated colors, illuminating the fountains in green, red, blue, and yellow.
Even the coconut palm trees throughout the parking lot were lit by blue, red, green and white spotlights from the base of the palm trees. Except for a few employee vehicles, the hospital’s dimly lit front parking lot was nearly empty. On Friday, most hospital patient visitors left before the 9pm curfew.
“Let’s do it,” I whispered, just loud enough to be heard by Eddie and Pratt over the sounds of the water.
“Yeah, let’s do it,” Eddie whispered back, holding tight onto his box of detergent.
Pratt snickered, paused and whispered back to Eddie, “You should have brought your dirty laundry.”
“Yeah right, and you can take your weekly bath, too,” Eddie snapped back at Pratt.
Tonight was the result of several weeks of wondering ‘What would happen if...’ Running a pair of panties and a bra up the high school flag pole was no longer impressive. It was beginning to lose its shock value and became gradually less amusing to everyone involved, so we were trying to think of something both entertaining and unique.
The hospital where I was born on Kauai had recently constructed a fountain in front of the main entrance. Every day, patients and visitors sat in various spots around the fountain and on the surrounding lawns and benches seeking solace from their troubles. The fountain display was the newest attraction in town, so we couldn’t really help that it drew our attention too. One day I had a brilliant idea and decided to throw it out there.
“Eddie, what would happen if laundry soap was put into the fountain pool?” I figured I had a good enough idea of what would happen, but I needed to be sure. I often asked Eddie, my haole friend, for his opinion because he seemed to always think things over longer than I did. Whether he agreed with me or not, I always trusted him to give me an honest opinion.
“You not serious, Hank,” Eddie said after a minute and sucker punched me on the shoulder. “You must be nuts. Why you wanna do that fo?”
Unsure how exactly to explain, I said, “I dunno why. Just thinking it would be cool to try it and see what happens. I think it would look kinda cool.”
Eddie was quiet for a moment longer, then he looked at me with an impish grin. The thing about Eddie was not only that he thought about things before he did them, but that even when he had doubts, his eagerness to try new things with his local friends usually won out.
“What would look kinda cool?” Pratt said as he walked up.
Just then the lunch bell sounded and I grabbed my bag and hurried to automotive shop class on the far side of campus.
“Eddie, tell him. I talk to you guys lata afta school,” I called behind me as I ran.
We joked around about the idea for a couple of days, trying to gather courage to actually carry out the plan. The possibility of a mountain of suds overflowing from that pool intrigued me. We all agreed that the suds would be out of control and each of us entertained our own vision of towering soap suds multiplying under the sprays of water and glowing different colors as the underwater lights shone through them.
Pratt and Eddie had a unique sort of friendship. They harassed each other constantly but I knew they respected each other in a weird kind of way. Compared to Pratt, Eddie was a serious and deliberate thinker. Pratt on the other hand, was witty, always laughing and always seeing the funny side of things. Pratt had a secret weapon that pushed Eddie’s button. The one word that really ticked Eddie off was the “Thing.” Pratt would use it as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and any other way he could think of, always referring to Eddie’s extra-large, haole nose. I was the constant referee between their endless banter and harassment of each other. My two friends could not have been more different. Eddie was physically taller but Pratt was faster and more agile. Eddie had straight blonde hair and Pratt had curly, black hair. Eddie was academically smart where Pratt had street smarts. If they were ever in a real fight with each other, I’m not sure if either of them would come out alive. But I would never let that happen to my best friends. The ironic part was that they seemed to get along fine when it was just the two of them, but once they added a third person it was like they had an audience and they suddenly became a comedy act.
The parking lot farthest away from the main entrance was deserted when we arrived. Each of the three of us carried a brand new, medium-sized box of Rinse-O-Blue laundry detergent. The time had come. The moment the scattered detergent powder touched the water in the fountain, suds erupted. I poured powder into the crevices of the rock formation and the agitation of the water immediately produced suds that flowed down into the pool at my feet.
Eddie and Pratt were spreading their laundry soap around the nozzles of the smaller fountains. Two minutes was enough time to empty our boxes of Rinse-O-Blue. Getting soaked by the cool water was expected, but we didn’t realize how slippery the soap would make everything. It was impossible to walk without slipping or to hold on to anything, including the detergent boxes.
“Hey, I’m outta here,” I called to Eddie and Pratt.
Soapy and wet, I slipped and fell twice, almost busting my ass as I made a dash back to the bushes at the edge of the parking lot. I heard loud splashes and cussing as Eddie and Pratt followed me out of the pool, slipping and falling a few times in clouds of bubbles. Together we ran back to our car, sitting where we parked it under the monkey-pod tree at the far corner of the lot. Our only hope now was that no one saw us or we would be in deep Kim Chee. Five minutes later, we were in the car laughing our asses off and wiping our soapy bodies with towels.
“Hey, we betta ditch these soap boxes befo’ somebody find ‘em in the car and we git busted.”
“I drop mine back at the fountain,” I said. We were in my car, a 1952 Chevy junker that my brother Vic and I had fixed up, and I definitely didn’t want to be caught with the evidence of our mischief.
We could not stop laughing at the humbug we’d just pulled off. As we looked back at the fountain across the parking lot, the results we expected were beginning to take shape. Rinse-O-Blue laundry detergent suds had started to build at the center of the pool and were rolling off the central rock formation. The colorful lamps were illuminating the bubbles in a rainbow of shades.
“What da f**k is that smell?” Eddie turned around with a disgusted look and stared at Pratt in the back seat.
Pratt stopped laughing.
“Eh, Hank, turn on da light for a minute,” Pratt sounded suddenly serious.
“Why? What you do, shit yo pants or what?”
“Ah, crap…I step on dog shit! Crap! I thought it was mud.”
Pratt jumped out of the car and hopped around, soft dog crap between his toes and coloring his towel brown. Frantically, Pratt was dragging and rubbing his right foot in the grass and cursing the unknown creator of the mess he'd stepped in.
Eddie and I tried not to laugh out loud, but a few quiet laughs escaped our mouths anyway.
“Go back to da pool and wash yo stinking feet, dude,” Eddie barked holding his stomach in a sudden burst of laughter.
“No way, I not going back. You f**king crazy?”
Pratt was angry, but he couldn’t help laughing at the same time.
“Go clean yo feet before you get back in, and you betta clean da floor too,” I demanded, still trying to contain my laughter and not succeeding very well.
“Yeah, yeah. It’s all off. Let’s git outta here and go Kalapaki.”
“Yeah, Hank. Let’s go Kalapaki and come back lata and check it out,” urged Eddie.
I drove us down to Kalapaki beach, making Pratt hold the brown towel out the window the whole way. Pratt dove into the surf and spent some time scrubbing himself in the water before he came back out and joined Eddie and I on the sand.
“Sorry ‘bout yo towel, Hank,” Pratt said holding up the soaking wet towel that still had a tell-tale brown stain in the middle.
“Aw, is okay. Just leave it. My mom won’t notice one missing towel.”
Next to me, Eddie burst into laughter and fell backward in the sand. Pratt and I watched, unable to laugh ourselves and waiting for him to be able to tell us what was so funny.
“Oh, man,” he said, recovering at last, “Pratt, you call me the ‘Thing,’ I think I might just call you the ‘Stink.’”
“Suddenly the ‘Thing’ has a sense of humor!” Pratt jibed.
Eddie jumped up and Pratt took off running back toward the car. All three of us piled in, laughing and breathless.
We were expecting that it would take about an hour for the fountain to produce the mountainous, colorful suds that we envisioned so we changed into the dry clothes we’d brought along and drove back to the hospital an hour later. Not knowing what to expect, we circled around the back side of the hospital, intending to park in the farthest parking lot among the employee vehicles. As we rounded the corner of the building, we were treated to a kaleidoscope of color. There was the usual display of light from the colorfully illuminated palm trees and those spotlights near the fountain, but there were other revolving lights now that cast everything in a warm array of color. There were the flashing red and blue lights from two police squad cars, red and white lights from a fire truck, and yellow lights from a hospital security vehicle, all of which were surrounding the fountain pool. About ten people, mostly in uniform, were pointing and staring at the huge, white, alien monster blob that creeped and crawled slowly over the edge of the pool. From somewhere in its giant bulk, random sprays of water squirted from the beast and the different colors from the spotlights deep inside gave the thing a life of its own. Red, green, blue, yellow, were the pulses of its heartbeat.
“Wow, check it out,” Pratt said, giggling a little as he stared at our creation, “That’s a hella funny.”
Eddie didn’t say a word, but stared with wide blue eyes and open mouth. I smiled, hardly believing that we had succeeded in pulling off one of our craziest stunts to date. The people around the pool were pointing at different parts of the fountain and shaking their heads in disbelief. Some were actually smiling and laughing. The two police officers were standing with arms crossed, talking to the firemen. They did not look terribly serious and I like to think it gave them something to talk about after a boring night. The fire truck crew was slowly hooking up a hose to the truck, not quite sure what they were going to do with the growing, non-threatening white blob.
We watched the fountain commotion for nearly 45 minutes before hospital maintenance finally shut off the water fountain. The firemen hosed down the sidewalk around the fountain and directed the overflowing suds into the parking lot storm drain. The following Saturday morning, hospital maintenance drained and refilled the fountain pool a few times before the water display was turned back on. Surprisingly, by Monday the fountain pool was functioning as usual with no indication that three boxes of Rinse-O-Blue had ever cycled through its pipes. But I think it looked better when it was a mysterious white blob.
First thing Monday morning, the rumors started at school and by lunch everyone had heard about the hospital fountain of suds. Taking the credit for the suds project would have been great for our rebellious reputations, but sometimes notoriety isn’t worth the disciplinary action that follows. Nah, not for us. We chose to smile and laugh along with the other students. Many of the guys suspected we had something to do with it but no one accused or pointed the finger at us. Surprisingly, no official questioning was done by anybody either. That time, at least. And that was cool with us.